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The Making of a Fundamental Value

A History of the Concept of Separation of Church and State in the Netherlands

Mart Rutjes

The separation of church and state is nowadays widely believed to be a fundamental aspect of modern liberal democracy. This is certainly the case in the Netherlands, where, in fact, over the past decade, several scholars have noted that the notion

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Zvi Jonathan Kaplan

The Dreyfus Affair evolved into a vital symbol for the proponents of the separation of church and state. While the clerical anti-Dreyfusards turned the arrest and conviction of Alfred Dreyfus into an attack on both Jews and the Republic, the anticlerical Dreyfusards successfully used the Dreyfus Affair to achieve their political objectives. While for practical purposes Jewish leaders were more aligned with the anticlerical camp, they did not enthusiastically welcome the law on separation. If one applies the label “Dreyfusard” to those who cloaked their anticlericalism in their battle to rehabilitate Dreyfus, then the representatives of French Jewry, who did not have a radical position to cloak, were not genuine Dreyfusards. They were not driven by ideology but rather by pragmatic political and social considerations resulting from the rise of anti-Semitism emanating from clerical corners. For Jewish leaders, separation was a byproduct of the Affair. For the anticlerical Dreyfusards, separation was the goal.

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Separating Church and State

The Atlantic Divide

James Q. Whitman

Americans commonly believe that their country is unique in its commitment to the separation of church and state. Yet by the European measure, the American separation of church and state looks strikingly weak, since Americans permit religious rhetoric to permeate their politics and even cite the Bible in court. In light of these striking differences, this article argues that it is wrong to imagine that there is some single correct measure of the separation of church and state. Instead, northern continental Europe and the United States have evolved two different patterns, whose historical roots reach back into the Middle Ages. In northern continental Europe, unlike the United States, historic church functions have been absorbed by the state. The consequences of this historic divergence extend beyond familiar questions of the freedom of religious expression, touching on matters as diverse as welfare policy and criminal law.

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Adam B. Seligman

The separation of church and state in the USA and the critical role of disestablishment in the political doctrines of that country is no indication of a secular polity. In fact, the separation of church and state as developed in 18th century American political thought was itself a religious doctrine and rested on the unique religious beliefs of certain Protestant Churches there. One consequence of this particular mode of accommodating religion has meant that the challenge of pluralism and difference in the United States of America is met, most often, by liberal indifference. Differences are trivialized, aethetisized and, more critically, privatized. They are shielded from public scrutiny and conceptualized as irrelevant to public concern. This is an increasingly inadequate response to the challenge of difference and the plurality of the human experience. Challenges to contemporary modes of accommodating religious and ethnic pluralism are necessitating the formulation of new sets of answers which are not based on such Protestant or post-Protestant assumptions.

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Valentine Zuber

The comparative history of secularization in France and in Geneva can shed fresh light on the separation of church and state in France in 1905 and in Geneva in 1907. Similarities in the timing of events and in the laws of separation in these two settings mask sharp differences in how laïcité was understood and how it was interpreted politically. The establishment of laïcité had neither the same causes nor the same political effects in France and Geneva. Nevertheless, as two examples of "total" laïcisation, the French and Genevan separations of church and state raised the same question about religious liberty and its safeguard by the state. Should a state that is "separate from religion" play an active role protecting the liberty of the different denominations in its territory, or should it uphold a prudent and distanced neutrality?

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Introduction

Durkheim's Contribution to the Debate on the Separation of Church and State in 1905

W. S. F. Pickering

This is the first English translation of Durkheim's contribution to an important debate on the separation of church and state (1905) - in the course of which he remarked, to an outburst from those present, that 'From a sociological point of view, the Church is a monstrosity'. The translation comes with an introduction and editorial notes by W. S. F. Pickering, explaining the background to the debate, identifying the participants, and recommending some of the many books and articles on the issue.

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Contribution to a Debate

'On the Separation of the Churches and the State'

Émile Durkheim

This is the first English translation of Durkheim's contribution to an important debate on the separation of church and state (1905) - in the course of which he remarked, to an outburst from those present, that 'From a sociological point of view, the Church is a monstrosity'. The translation comes with an introduction and editorial notes by W. S. F. Pickering, explaining the background to the debate, identifying the participants, and recommending some of the many books and articles on the issue.

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The Headscarf

The French State as Mediator Between Civil Society and Individuals

Elisa Wiygul

This article examines the meaning of the French headscarf ban in the light of France's state-sponsored religious councils. These councils belie the view that France simply has a stricter separation of Church and State than the United States. Rather, France reconfigures the traditional conception of civil society as mediating between the individual and the state. The French state conceives of itself as the representative of the people and, as such, inter-mediates between religious institutions and individuals. This intervention achieves two distinct but complementary goals. First, the state endeavors to save individuals from private religious forces in order to promote individual autonomy. Second, the state's intervention into institutional religious matters bureaucratizes, centralizes, and domesticates religious institutions, making them more comprehensible and less threatening. Both the headscarf ban and the religious councils stem from the state's goal of serving as a buffer between its individual citizens and religious institutions.

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Jonathan Laurence

Politicians and civil servants charged with the task of helping a “French Islam” emerge in late twentieth-century France faced a vast, transnational network of more than 1600 Muslim associations and mosques in dozens of French towns and cities. During the colonial era, Islam in French Algeria was exempted from the 1905 separation of church and state, and no one at the time imagined that one century later, 5 million Muslims would inhabit metropolitan France. The legacy of French and later, Algerian, state oversight of the Muslim religion is still felt within Islam in France today. In the post-colonial period up until the 1980s, French authorities relied on immigrants’ home governments for the accommodation of religious requirements, from the salaries of imams to the creation of prayer spaces.

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Herrick Chapman

The hundredth anniversary of the 1905 law in France on the separation of church and state has led to a rich harvest of new scholarly work on laïcité and religion in public life. Centenaries often inspire conferences and publishing projects, especially in France. In the case of the 1905 law the temptation became irresistible in the wake of the creation of the Conseil français du culte musulman in 2002 (see the special spring 2005 issue of FPCS on the CFCM) and years of controversy over the wearing of Muslim headscarves in public schools. The Stasi Commission’s 2004 recommendation to ban the wearing of ostentatious religious signs in public schools, and a 2005 act of Parliament that made that view law, inspired sharp debate in France and beyond, adding further impetus to scholarly discussion of religion, politics, and the government’s regulation of matters religious.